What will happen to a company if each employee acts on his or her own? Would it result in a more creative and productive atmosphere or things will quickly descend into chaos? Establishing the right objectives can make all the difference in this situation. A vision coupled with the weekly steps of a 90-day goal can save the day not only in our personal life but also in any type of organization, including a business. Today we will show how our system does that.
Why companies need goals?
Goal setting is useful for both small as well as big companies. The principle is universal:
When there is a vision, everybody can do their part and thus keep moving the whole enterprise in the desired direction. But when top management changes course all the time, then confusion ensues and poor results are not far behind. This lack of consistency affects everyone down the chain of command.
You don’t need to be (or work for) Jack Ma, whose planning for the Alibaba’s development spans for 102 years, to understand the need for a long-term perspective for any business entity.
In both personal and company terms it is good to think ahead for at least 30 years. This will provide for a steady course which is essential for its survival in difficult economic circumstances. There is more to it. A clear understanding of the true value of any given business won’t allow it to be affected by the volatility of the fast-changing world of today.
What is the thing that always stays the same?
This is a question that all bosses should be asking themselves.
Answering it will require reaching deep into the purpose of the company’s existence. What is it that inspired its creation and keeps pushing it to grow and thrive? This core justification must be motivating, strong, and clear for everyone.
A vision is just a wish if not supported by action
That’s why it is so important to set such goals that will gradually take you closer to the vision. This is not as hard since the standard timeframe in the business world is the quarter. It fits perfectly with the 90-day goals of our system.
This period is short enough to allow for several different approaches which might require some minor adjustments and changes on the fly. At the same time, it is long enough for the chosen tactic to take effect and the outcome gets measured and carefully analyzed.
However, the overall success depends on a whole bunch of different people. And here’s the tricky part – how to pull all the individual objectives together into one synchronized body.
Convergent or divergent goals
We have already talked about how your goals can support one another or obstruct each other. It is pretty much the same story with company goals. They can not only be pulling in different directions or getting in the way of each other but can also be actively fighting between themselves.
Just imagine the havoc that can erupt when nothing is in synch.
Common goals can be set in different ways depending on the type of organization. At the two ends of the spectrum are:
# 1 Complete Flexibility
This is practiced in companies without strictly defined protocols and requirements. This is the case for some startups that hire the so-called “superstars”. They are given full independence in all of their work.
But this approach requires 100% goal alignment, otherwise, failure is impossible to avoid.
Let’s look at the opposite end now.
# 2 Full control
This type of organization is entirely process-oriented. Absolutely everything is regulated and structured. Franchises are the first to come to mind. Everyone follows checklists and standards that must be in place so that the desired outcome is achieved.
Only the employees who come up with the protocols and rules have the responsibility to set the goals. They can give some guidance but it is mostly aimed at how to make sure everything is done according to the company’s policy. And it’s intended to bring the overall operational efficiency up.
Let’s look now at what the story is for the majority of the cases that are in between these two extremes.
Aligning the company goals
Usually, the structure of any business is built around the following three:
- The senior management (CEOs and directors or simply the owner if a small family business);
- Middle management;
- The employees.
The usual way is to propagate the goals down the corporate structure. The vision and short-term goals are introduced by the senior management and then communicated to the middle level. Managers, in turn, get them to those under their supervision.
All employees set their objectives in accordance with the overarching vision for the company. This guarantees that everyone is on the same page.
Goal alignment in practice
The middle managers have the ability as well as the tools to set the objectives at their level in support of senior management’s priorities. For example, if a brand new marketing strategy is to be introduced, then they are responsible to kick it in motion (most likely through an organization-wide project).
The next step is to pass the relevant information as well as the rules to the employees. These include not only the Marketing Department but also all those who may have any points of contact with the new strategy. Also, they set other operational goals according to the specifics of their responsibilities.
That’s how the alignment of company goals can come into a full circle – the employees at all the levels are in sync with the chosen strategy.
Let’s now address what problems might arise along the way.
Challenge # 1: “Constantly moving the goal post”
What we have in mind is breaking the “GoalBuddy” basic rule – don’t change your 90-day action goals before the quarter is over or the objective is reached.
Ivan knows this very well. There were times when he would make this very same mistake causing a considerable disruption at his own company.
The story goes like this. A new pilot project has just been started. Everyone is excited and the positive energy is pretty high. The goals at all levels are in sync and much progress is achieved. And yet one morning he walks into the office and announces a brand new idea that will turn the project upside down. The team has to refocus and start working in a completely different direction. After a few more of these “surprises” the inevitable happens and the whole project gets nowhere while people get frustrated and stressed out.
The bottom line
Constantly switching from one tactic to another is a recipe for disaster. You have to make sure that you first completed what had been planned for the quarter. Then you can move on but only after a review and analysis of the past period.
The sensible thing to do in such circumstances is to compile a list of your ideas so that you can explore them later in the future, i.e. the kind of list of ”everything you should NOT do now”. Plus, it’s quite possible that many of those won’t look so great when you give them a second look.
Challenge # 2: Conflicting attitudes
This is the case when one part of the team is interested in the results and the other cares more about how to keep their work less of personal responsibility.
There are always these members of the work-force who just love their jobs. It’s nice and pretty easy to work on projects without worrying too much about how it will all end up. This “camp” is bound to come into conflict with their colleagues who are more oriented towards professional excellence and career growth.
Perhaps the best way to balance things out is to have a clear and unobstructed type of communication from one level to another.
Challenge # 3: When there is no one over-arching idea
At Aula.bg, Ivan and his brother Vesko are the two bosses. When they have any disagreement it might throw the whole place in disarray.
Ivan might set one objective but Vesko doesn’t give it a top priority. Then no one is quite sure how to proceed.
The solution is very much like parenting. You never fight in front of the kids but always present a united message regardless of how it was negotiated.
Challenge # 4: The process of setting the goals
It’s not unheard of that a manager would walk into the office and openly declares something like that, “Listen now, your goal is… to get my goal realized!”
Instead of defining the goals for our subordinates, one has to communicate intentions and meaning. In this way, the employees can set their objectives in a way that helps the company.
It may look like a tricky task, but that’s what we need if we want a smooth and steady movement forward with everyone’s contribution.
In the end, the difference here with the fully formalized and inflexible company goal setting is night and day.
Challenge # 5: No clear mechanism on how to proceed
Niki has seen it countless times when bold and daring intentions are laid out and then nothing happens.
The reason is usually that there is no good procedure on how to come up with the specific actions to follow. In cases like that, it is “GoalBuddy” that can help to apply one of its most potent concepts – the weekly steps. If everyone in the company makes the needed little steps forward regularly then the positive result will be guaranteed at the end of the quarter.
“Launching into space…” every single week
The weekly meetings of all involved are yet another way to make sure everything goes according to plan. It’s a tested and proven way how to keep goals under control. We strongly recommend books like “Rocket Fuel” and “Traction”.
Every 90 days the team will meet for half a day to analyze the results, set objectives and KIPs for the next period. This is also a great opportunity for brainstorming and outlining prospective new directions.
The system that will never fail you in achieving anything
Having a vision, setting quarterly goals, working on them every week, and discussing them with those involved are the four cornerstones of any successful enterprise. It’s an all-around formula that works on both personal and corporate levels because it provides a framework and methodology.
In the end, the process for achieving our objectives serves exactly what any other one does – to overcome the obstacles and provide the best circumstances for your progress. Isn’t that what we all strive for?
 “Rocket Fuel: The One Essential Combination That Will Get You More of What You Want from Your Business”, a book by Gino Wickman and Mark C. Winters.
 “Traction: How to get a grip on your business”, a book by Gino Wickman.